St. Amant closes doors on main fire station for the last time after 46 years

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

This weekend members of the St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department and community gathered at its main fire station on Stringer Bridge Road and rolled the fire trucks out the bays for the last time.

For the past 46 years, this has been the Community Center of the St. Amant area. So many weddings, baby showers, graduation gatherings, and funeral gatherings occurred in this building for the past 46 years. So many filled sand bags and late nights surviving one hurricane after another, or some sort of natural disaster.

Many old members, former Fire Chief’s, President’s, Board Members and Volunteer Firefighters gathered at the main station this past Sunday, to watch the main fire trucks roll out of the main fire station for the last time.

One St. Amant couple and former longtime members Coy and Diane Moran drove their vehicle through the bay areas for the last time, to remember their wedding that took place in this very building more than 28 years ago.

If you have lived in the St. Amant Community for a long time, you will miss the long time five bay yellow building located on Stringer Bridge Road, that community residents built by hand more than 46 years ago.

The building did not survive the 2016 flood, and the fire department has not operated out of the building since August 2016. We still kept fire trucks in the building, but we have not provided any day to day operations from the building since the flood hit the St. Amant community in 2016.

"I can’t imagine the tens of thousands of calls, and hundreds of thousands of hours of training that happened in this building," stated longtime Volunteer President Layne Gautreau, whose father in law Lionel Babin served as Fire Chief for many years.

Long time Fire Chief Michael Lanoux and William Eddy laughed about the old fire trucks that would have to get a running starts out the building to get up the incline, just to get out the building on to Stringer Bridge.

"I spent twenty years in the St. Amant fire department," stated long time member Aaron Gautreau. "Started out as a Junior Firefighter under the command of Thad Bellow. I had a few different fire chief's while i was in SAVFD. Michael Lanoux was my first chief. Then Chief Officer James E. LeBlanc came in and is still fire chief. Chief LeBlanc has done so much for the St. Amant community."

"Started as a firefighter in late 1989 under Chief William Eddy," stated long time President Thad Bellows. "Learned a lot about life even though there were some from the community that lost theirs no matter how hard we tried to save them. This was the best group of men women and young people that I have ever had the chance to work with. Even though my firefighting time was cut short due to an automobile accident, I stayed and volunteered for over twenty years. Made some great friends, and the memories I felt when those trucks rolled out that station for the last time where a little overwhelming. I know that the new station will be bigger and better for the community. Praise to all those that are still there answering the calls at any time."

"I walked into the St. Amant Volunteer Fire Station for the first time In 1981, when I was 18 years old," stated long time President Layne Gautreau. "For the next twenty five years ‘the department’ was a huge part of my life. It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since I ‘turned it over to the young guys.’ So many memories as I walked thru that empty shell of a building today. SAVFD has a great future because of the volunteers that continue to respond to calls, and care for our community. No matter what building the trucks are parked in or where the meetings and trainings are held."

Moreover, long-time WAFB Reporter Cheryl Mercedes recalls sleeping in the building after long nights and days covering Hurricane Gustav. Hurricane Gustav was the second most destructive hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

Everybody in the St. Amant community has a story to tell and a memory to hold close to their heart in this 46 year old building. Contractors should be moving on site this week to demo the entire old building and make room for the new building to be placed on the same property.

Contributed by Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc